INTERNET ADDICTION has become a prevailing problem in the modern wired society. One important line of research has examined the relationships among Internet abuse, social anxiety, and interpersonal relationships. Several studies have identified that people who are shy, have poor social skills, or experience a high level of interpersonal anxiety may be drawn to cyberspace relationships.
This study (1) suggests “that the quality of parent–child relationship is indeed positively correlated to the quality of our participants’ interpersonal relationships and that frustrating interpersonal relationships may raise the level of social anxiety. In addition, interpersonal relationships, the parent–child relationship, and social anxiety all influence Internet addiction… Finally, the more social anxiety and discontent with their peer interactions the participants experienced, the more addicted they were to the Internet.
Other studies have explored whether the cyber-relationship substitutes for an unmet need in an actual relationship.3–5 Together, these studies indicate that cyber-relationships can provide a sense of belonging, warmth, and well-being.
A study by Bell et al. revealed that the parent–child relationship was a primary experience of the child, as parents retained a substantial influence on the development of adolescent social relationships outside the family (8).
Feldman and Wentzel also found that parental child-rearing style and social support from the family were positively associated with whether the adolescent was trusted or liked by his or her peers (9). These studies collectively suggested that warmth, support, acceptance, and love in the parent–child relationship are directly related to the child’s closeness to peers, satisfaction with peer relations, and acceptance by peers.
In this study, we identify predictors of Internet addiction by constructing a model from elucidating the linkages among Internet addiction, parent–child relationship, interpersonal relationships, and social anxiety. This finding is consistent with the positions of Suler and Young, who have said that addiction to the Internet is a reaction to poor adaptation in the real world (5,14).
Most individuals who are addicted to the Internet experience more social anxiety because of bad social skills and frustrated personal companionship, which in turn may be shaped by qualities of the parent–child relationship. Anxiety picked up from caregivers or parents in the early stages of development, however, can be overcome and social skills can be improved if people develop good relationships during adolescence(6).
1. Liu, C. Y., & Kuo, F. Y. (2007). A study of Internet addiction through the lens of the interpersonal theory. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(6), 799-804.